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St. Louis Rams – Blog

Wrapping Up San Francisco

Posted by nickwagoner on November 12, 2012 – 11:09 PM

- Well, here we are 24 hours removed from that crazy game in San Francisco and it seems like there’s a little more clarity on the Rams side now that they’ve been given the gift of 24 hours of perspective.

- Coach Jeff Fisher just finished up his weekly post mortem, breaking down the many moving parts in the 24-24 tie, a game that his team had in its grasp and couldn’t finish much like San Francisco had its chances and couldn’t finish as well.

- Fisher said the Rams made it through clean from an injury standpoint. WR Danny Amendola and CB Trumaine Johnson dealt with leg cramps at various points but both are fine.

- Fisher also said C Scott Wells will practice this week though that’s by no means a signal on when he will return. He practiced on a limited basis last week, too.

- WR Chris Givens and CB Janoris Jenkins will return to practice this week, according to Fisher. The pair was deactivated against the Niners. Their fates for next week against the Jets remains to be seen.

- In what Fisher called a first for him, he found himself discussing a tie for the first time in his career. In rewatching the game, one of the things Fisher liked the most was that his team fared better in the areas that were emphasized over the bye; namely scoring touchdowns, getting the ball out and third down.

- The Rams finished three drives with touchdowns, forced three fumbles (though they didn’t recover any) and was 7 for 16 on offense on third down and held the Niners to 2-of-11 on that down.

- Marked improvement in areas of emphasis means the team is taking to coaching and focusing.

- Despite the improvement and the many positives that came in the game, Fisher admitted he felt disappointed by the tie. He said he’s “out to win every game” and the team has the same mindset. When that doesn’t happen, it is disappointing. This one hurts even more because the Rams had so many chances to get that win.

- Fisher did note that his team was taking on one of the toughest teams around and answered the bell when he challenged them after the debacle in New England. A little resolve could go a long way later in the season.

- Amendola’s performance bears mentioning again as Fisher acknowledged that his diminutive receiver is one of the toughest players in the league and made it clear how well he thought he played.

- Fisher said LT Rodger Saffold was “a little rusty” but finished with no issues and he expects Saffold to be better this week now that he’s knocked some of that rust off.

- When asked about the team’s travel plans for West Coast trips and going out a day early, Fisher said he liked that it allowed everyone to get in and get comfortable. He plans to do the same thing moving forward.

- As for some critical calls and decisions, let’s go through one by one and offer Fisher’s thoughts:

- Fisher took a timeout in regulation with about 1:09 to play and the Rams offense having a first down at San Francisco’s 2. Some wondered why not run the clock down a bit to leave little time for the Niners. Fisher said he wanted to get everyone settled down and get the right play call in because he wanted a touchdown in the first couple of downs. In fact, Fisher said that during the timeout, the play call changed to the one that worked. Additionally, Fisher believed that his defense should be able to get the stop needed with a minute to play against a backup quarterback (or anyone, really).

- After looking at the film, Fisher said the right call was made in the instance of the illegal formation against Brandon Gibson for not lining up properly. He also said that on one angle he could see how the official would see a block in the back on LB Justin Cole on Amendola’s punt return and on another, he didn’t see it. Still, a pretty questionable flag on that one.

- As for the timing of the flag on the illegal formation, he said usually late flags like that are reserved for discussions about intentional grounding so it was a bit surprising to see it come out so late. That part of it is definitely strange but again, the right call.

- There’s really no explanation for the timing error from the first half in which over a minute of game time vanished into thin air along with a measurement. There also isn’t one for the spotting and timing shenanigans that went on with the completion to RB Isaiah Pead in the overtime period. It cost the Rams time and yardage. Fisher called it frustrating. I call it insanity.

- As for the delay of game on the field goal, not much knew to say there. P Johnny Hekker was focused on making sure K Greg Zuerlein was ready and the line was set and he lost track of the time. Fisher called it unfortunate but commended Hekker for the rest of his game, save the 13-yard punt.

- Fisher also commended QB Sam Bradford for his strong performance, noting the tight space throws he completed, especially on third down, and his accurate deep balls.

- Asked about whether rookie WR Brian Quick should have had more opportunities after his early touchdown, Fisher said yes, he believed he probably should have played more. For what it’s worth, Quick said his TD catch was actually a play that was originally designed for Givens.

- All told, Fisher was disappointed in the result but pleased at how his team responded to the struggles against New England.

- The Rams return to practice Wednesday as they prepare for their return home to the Edward Jones Dome this Sunday against the Jets.

- Thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | No Comments »

Rams Left With Empty Feeling

Posted by nickwagoner on November 12, 2012 – 4:55 AM

SAN FRANCISCO -

- It’s not often after a football game that it’s hard to figure out where to begin. But that’s where we start with today’s recap of the 24-24 tie the Rams and 49ers just played to after 75 of the hardest-fought minutes you’ll see on a football field anywhere. And though that would usually make this a difficult undertaking, it’s harder still to imagine what the Rams must feel like after that game.

- Under normal circumstances, the emotions following a game are pretty clear cut. A win means positive feelings all around despite any hiccups. A loss means disappointment and a general wonder of what went wrong. So what do you feel like after a tie? Well, it’s a question there’s really no answer to. There’s no real emotion unless you consider “empty” an emotion. The Rams wanted to keep playing, they wanted to keep going to finish the job that they should have finished multiple times in the first hour and 15 minutes of game time.

- Alas, that will have to wait for the rematch with the 49ers in a few weeks. In the meantime, let’s go back through what happened on Sunday, the good, the bad, the unbelievable and everything in between.

- It’s hard to accept without the reward but the entire team deserves a round of applause for battling and fighting through adversity time and time again. The mettle of this team is unquestioned and really starting to coalesce.

- First, on the injury front, it appears the Rams came through OK. WR Danny Amendola and LT Rodger Saffold made it through OK in their first games back from a shoulder and knee injury, respectively. Amendola had some leg cramps late in the first half and returned.

- DT Kendall Langford suffered a shoulder injury but was also able to gut it out and finish.

- There’s so much to discuss but I think it’s a good idea to start with Amendola. What a performance by the guy I still believe might be one of the pound for pound toughest players in the league. He misses a few weeks with injury and comes back better than ever. Forget all the discussions about his being the best receiver on the Rams and how that reflects on the group as a whole, whether people want to admit it or not, he’s one of the best there is on any team. Anywhere. And just think, he had a monster punt return and a huge 80-yard catch called back on some questionable flags.

- That segues into this, the two huge calls that went against the Rams today, none bigger than the illegal formation call on the Rams to negate the 80-yard grab. The call was that WR Brandon Gibson didn’t get up on the line of scrimmage to “cover” LT Rodger Saffold. It’s a basic play and you normally see receivers point to the linesman to ensure they are where they’re supposed to be. Before the play, OC Brian Schottenheimer tried his best to get Gibson’s attention to get him moved up but he didn’t. Now, the flag came out late, well after the play but the officials huddled to ensure they got it right. A number of Rams believe the call was the right one but were frustrated with its timing. QB Sam Bradford put the blame on himself for not getting Gibson lined up properly. Regardless, it’s disappointing that it wasn’t executed perfectly byone of the most experienced wideouts on the team. Just a huge play that could have helped the Rams put it away.

- As for the “block in the back” on Amendola’s punt return, let’s just agree to disagree. Looked like a pretty clean side block from the San Francisco pressbox and again on the replays though it seemed close.

- Of course, the Rams did find ways to shoot themselves in the foot legitimately as well. Namely, the delay of game penalties. None were bigger than the one before K Greg Zuerlein’s 53-yard field goal attempt to win it in overtime. Zuerlein boomed it right down the middle for what would have been a game winner but the whistles blew and flags were dropped for a delay of game. Fisher said P Johnny Hekker, who is the holder, “lost track of time” as he double checked the protection and Zuerlein’s timing. Either way, Fisher said it’s not OK and there’s really no excuse for it to happen. It left Zuerlein with a much more difficult 58-yarder that he pushed wide right. Tough pill to swallow.

- It was an up and down day for Hekker, who also shanked a 13-yard punt but got bailed out by a stout defense in the first half. But he also made some huge plays, including two fourth down conversions on perfectly executed fakes. He completed two passes for 40 yards and is now three for three with a touchdown on the season.

- Speaking of those fake punts, you had to like the aggressive approach by the Rams today. They wanted to leave nothing in the bag of tricks and went for broke to win, which you have to do against a good team like San Francisco on the road.

- I think I’ve probably exhausted the adjectives to describe what RB Steven Jackson means to this team so I’ll just point out a couple of small samples of how important he is for this team. He was a force on the ground, surpassing 100 yards against one of the stoutest run defenses in the league. He was outstanding in pass protection with a huge blitz pickup on the late 2-yard TD toss to Austin Pettis. And he was inspiring with one of the toughest catch and runs you’ll ever see on third and 14. He lost his helmet but he didn’t care. His passion and effort might be matched by a player or two around the league but it’s certainly not surpassed. Also, seems the bye week did him well. He looks fresh and ready for a strong second half.

- Can anyone explain what happened on the late pass to RB Isaiah Pead? The ruling on the field or lack of ruling cost the Rams valuable time and then yards in the spot. Very strange. And that doesn’t even account for the strange clock gaffe in the first half.

- Tough day for Pead, who coughed up an important fumble. Ball security has to improve as that’s something Fisher emphasizes with all of his returners.

- Nice job by the Rams defensively for the most part but as DE Chris Long was quick to point out, disappointing that they couldn’t hold the lead with just over a minute to go in regulation.

- The Rams finally got some balls on the ground with fumbles by the Niners today but couldn’t come up with any of them. Has to be wildly frustrating, none more so than the Kyle Williams fumble that saw four Rams surround him but he just happened to be tackled on top of the ball. Maddening.

- Strong performance by QB Sam Bradford. He threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns for a rating of 104.1. He also had a couple of big time drives late in the game, more signs of progress for Bradford and the offense as a whole. He threw some downright lasers to Amendola to keep some drives alive.

- Be remiss not to tip the cap to the offensive line. The Niners had just two sacks and the line opened holes in the running game most of the afternoon. The offense finished with 458 yards of offense against perhaps the best defense in the league. That’s big time production.

- Congrats to rookie WR Brian Quick for his first career touchdown. Keep up that physical play and the playing time will follow.

- That’s a lot and there’s actually more to cover but time to knock out a game story and notebook. Thanks for reading.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »